Americans United for Life releases 2011 guide for anti-abortion rights model legislation

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Image by: Matt MahurinNational anti-abortion rights law and policy group American United for Life, which credits itself with informing anti-abortion and other health-care related legislation, this month released its Defending Life 2011, a comprehensive guide of model legislation specifically for abortion, legal recognition and protection of the unborn, bioethics and biotechnology, end of life and health care rights of conscience.

The document includes 38 models for state-level bills pertaining to those subjects.

From the overview to the Defending Life 2011:

AUL is enormously encouraged by the progress we have made in recent years toward restoring a culture of life, and we are confident that 2011 will be a water-shed year in the defense of life!

[...]

As this one-of-a-kind legal guide shows, it is in the states where we are making significant progress—state by state, law by law, and person by person – to protect women and the unborn from the threats of abortion, to curb and eliminate unethical and life-debasing uses of technology, to combat efforts to encourage and legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, and to protect the freedom of conscience of our health care providers.

Some examples of state -specific model legislation include:

  • Joint Resolution Opposing the Federal “Freedom of Choice Act.” This bill is designed for states seeking “a meaningful and effective mechanism to protect human life.” A version of this legislation was originally drafted by Paul Benjamin Linton, an Illinois attorney and former general counsel for AUL, who adopted language from the Arkansas and Rhode Island state constitutions.
  • Women’s Health Defense Act, or Women’s Late-Term Pregnancy Health Act, whose goal is to prohibit abortions at or after 20 weeks gestation except in cases of a medical emergency. This law would also specifically define “medical emergency” to include “significant health risks,” in which a pregnant woman’s life or “a major, physical bodily function is threatened.” And “major bodily function” includes but is not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.” A physician in violation of this act would be a subject to a criminal penalty consisting of either a $10,000-$100,000 fine, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both. Civil penalties could also be incurred to pay relief for psychological and physical damages.
  • An Act on Abortions Performed for Reasons of Sex Selection, Potential Genetic Deformity, or Potential Disability. The drafter’s note: “This model was originally drafted as proposed federal legislation, but has been adapted for the States. However, it should not be introduced or filed in a any legislature, in whole or in part, without consulting AUL.”
  • Perinatal Hospice Information Act: This act would guarantee that women considering abortion after learning that their fetus has a lethal anomaly — meaning it will not survive birth — are presented with information on the option of “perinatal hospice care.”

Other model laws are related to requiring hospitals and clinics to provide information on abortion risks and complications, banning coercion against mothers considering abortion, prohibiting minors from obtaining abortions without parental consent and opting out of federal health insurance plans that include abortion coverage.

The guide also looks at all 50 states, analyzing current laws, political realities and legislative opportunities anti-abortion rights initiatives. AUL offers recommendations based on its “Reversing Roe” plans, which has two primary objectives, according to the organization: “to develop legislation that can form the basis for a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade” and “to prepare the states for the ‘day after Roe’ when abortion law and policy will again be the purview of each individual state.”

AUL gives a report card on which are the “best” and “worst” states based on developments made through Dec. 15, 2010, on their existing laws on abortion, legal protection and recognition of unborn children, bioethics, health-care conscience rights, the end of life, as well as on “critical gaps in legal protection.”

AUL’s 10 best states, No. 1  being the best:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Louisiana
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Arkansas
  5. Texas
  6. Nebraska
  7. Missouri
  8. North Dakota
  9. South Dakota
  10. Georgia

AUL’s 10 worst states, No. 1 being the worst:

  1. Washington
  2. California
  3. Hawaii
  4. Vermont
  5. New Jersey
  6. Montana
  7. Connecticut
  8. Nevada
  9. Oregon
  10. New York

Based on lobbying disclosure reports from the Clerk of the House of Representatives, in the four quarters of 2010 combined, AUL spent approximately $56,000 on expenses relating to lobbying activities — primarily for issues related to abortion, federal funding of abortion in health-care legislation, Supreme Court nominations and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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